Back Seat Producers Season 07 Shows

BSP Episode 223: I Love You, Phillip Morris

Release date:                                      12/3/2010

Roadside Attractions

Based on Mark Millar’s “I Love You Phillip Morris: A True Story of Life, Love, and Prison Breaks

Directed & Screenplay by              Glenn Ficarra, John Requa

Produced by                                        Andrew Lazar, Far Shariat


Jim Carrey                                           Steven Russell

Ewan McGregor                                 Phillip Morris

Leslie Mann                                         Debbie


Initial comments by the hosts:

Sam really liked this movie.  He thought it was funny and an interesting character study and dubbed it “the two gay guys-funnier Shawshank Redemption.”  Jill did not like the movie at all and had to go back to it three times to finally get through it.  She did not connect with the characters at all and found them to be superficial stereotypes and didn’t see how the relationships made sense.  Darrell thought he wasn’t going to like it and was surprised to find that he really enjoyed it; he thought the story was compelling.  Tony said that the movie surprised him at every turn.  It was not the movie he was expecting it to be, and he was very happy with it.  He’s very hit-or-miss with Jim Carrey, and he really liked him in this performance.

Sam thought the narration worked very well in this movie and Jill thought it was necessary in order to explain some of the more absurd parts of the movie.  Tony liked that the narrator (Steven Russell) flat-out lied, because the character can’t tell the truth.  During Jimmy’s death scene, from AIDS, Steven appeared to be mourning Jimmy’s death but years later Steven faked his own death from AIDS.  So, was Steven really sad when Jimmy died or was he simply filing that bit of information away to possibly be used later?

Jill took issue with how Steven’s life took such drastic changes when #1, he found his mother and #2, he came out of the closet as a gay man and took on that stereotypical, over the top, extravagant lifestyle.  She appreciated, at least, that they also portrayed him as a liar and a jerk.  Sam thought it wasn’t that much of an unrealistic portrayal since the movie would have taken place in the late 1970s and into the late 1990s, as that wasn’t really a set stereotype at that time.  Darrell countered that Steven, who moved to Miami, would have lived during the time of that exact type of life, that stereotype.  Tony thought that this showed one of the flaws of the character.  Steven was attracted to men but he only knew how live as a gay man by fulfilling this stereotype, that this was the only thing he knew.

Throughout most of the film, Jim Carrey played the character in a reserved manner, as he clearly should have, but Jill found a few moments in the film when Carrey let his larger-than-life comedic side come forward, and all the hosts agreed that this was unnecessary.  Darrell brought up the scene where Steven is walking up to his office and finds a slew of FBI agents waiting for him.  In his escape, he took a slightly more physically comedic route, and that would have played much more realistically if it has been played in a more reserved manner.  Sam thought that the movie, in its narration, was framed through the lens of a comedy more than a drama.  He thought that the comedy was Steven trying to poke fun at himself in hindsight.  Tony disagreed with the major life-changing event of the car accident, which then brought Steven to announce that he was gay and this subsequently changed every single aspect of his life.  He found it to be too much of a leap to be believable.

Jill wondered if, without knowing that the movie was based on a true story, the viewers would buy the story?  Tony agreed that he wouldn’t have and Sam stated that he simply enjoyed the movie, true story or not.  Tony thought that if the movie could have earned some of its storytelling points, instead of just leaping at them, it could have gone on to be a good story.

One of the questionable story lines for the hosts is how could someone who spent almost his entire life mired in lies and cons be believable as being in love with Phillip Morris?  Could Steven Russell love anyone other than himself?  Tony said that it was real and believable for him during the early stages of their relationship when Steven and Phillip could only communicate through notes.  You begin to see something deeper develop between them.  On the other hand, the movie never got too deeply into any of Steven’s other relationships (Debbie or Jimmy) so there wasn’t a lot to compare it to.  These were some of the movie’s shortcuts that made the storyline a challenge to find plausible.

They liked Ewan McGregor’s character as the soft-spoken Phillip Morris; they found his naïve character pretty believable.  Even when Phillip knew that Steven was a con-man, his naiveté played well in that he never questioned some of the blatant contradictions in Steven’s character.

It would be interesting to compare the movie to the book to see if the movie took a more comedic turn.  All in all, with the exception of Jill, the hosts found it a fun movie to watch.

Your Producers for this episode were:

  • Tony
  • Darrell
  • Jill
  • Sam

This episode was recorded: 3/21/2012


Wrath of the Titans: Theatrical Review

It’s been over 10 years since Perseus defeated the Kraken. Perseus was asked by his father Zeus to join him in Olympus, but declined to live his life out as a normal man.  He married Io and now has a son named Helius.  Io has since passed on and Perseus does his best to keep his son away from the life that he, Perseus, once led.  But Zeus has kept a watchful eye on his son and now the time has come where Zeus must call upon Perseus for his aid.  The ruler of the underworld, Hades, and the god of war, Ares, have joined forces to release the Titan, Kronos from his imprisonment in Tartarus and rule over the world of man.  At first, Perseus declines wanting nothing more than to spend his days with his son.  Soon though, events transpire that forces Perseus to join the battle and live up to the responsibility that’s part and parcel to his heritage.

That’s the premise to Wrath of the Titans the sequel to 2010’s Clash of the Titans and it’s also the latest film from director Jonathan Liebesman who directed last year’s Battle Los Angeles.  2010’s Clash of the Titans (a re-make of the 1981 Ray Harryhausen film) is not exactly well liked by most out there; I’m OK with it my own self- it’s not the greatest movie ever made, but it’s far from being the piece of trash that most make it out to be.  The thing that I don’t really forgive about it though is that it was the first major release post-Avatar to jump on the 3D bandwagon with a rushed 3D conversion, and at least in my estimation, was the starting point for the anti-3D feelings that you see from a lot of filmgoers today.  With that sort of pedigree (keeping in mind that Battle Los Angeles isn’t exactly well-liked either- though I enjoyed it a great deal), Wrath of the Titans has a couple of potential strikes against it before it’s even out of the gate.

Fortunately, Liebesman and crew took a good look at what was wrong with Clash and have gone to some considerable lengths to make it’s sequel a lot more fun.  And it is that, quite a bit of fun, but still with a few faults.

Liebesman shot Battle Los Angeles with an effective hand-held style that was great for putting you right in the middle of the action and he does the same thing here.  Now that style isn’t totally prevalent in this movie, and there’s plenty of instances where Liebesman will pull back his camera and give you a much clearer vantage point for all of the action.  While I prefer the hyper-stylized look of a similar movie like Immortals, this is  still a pretty darn good-looking film with some well-choreographed action, a few very cool set pieces and some terrific visual effects (very impressed by their rendition of Kronos which totally looks like it could’ve been a creation by the late, great Jack Kirby).

Now they do play a little fast and loose with the basic mythology and the characters are somewhat simplistic, but the ride is fast-paced and the 3D is absolutely fantastic.  That is the real improvement over Clash.  Clash’s 3D was an afterthought, Wrath’s 3D is well executed especially during the action sequences.

Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Danny Huston reprise their roles of Perseus, Zeus, Hades and Poseidon respectively.  Worthington really looks more the part now with his hair grown out.  He’s terrific in the action scenes and while he won’t win any dramatic awards for this, I thought the final scene in the film between Perseus and his son, Helius (john Bell) was actually pretty cool.  Neeson and Fiennes certainly both add gravity to this, and look like their having their own fun with it as well (especially Neeson).  New to this production are Rosamund Pike, Edgar Ramirez, Toby Kebbell and Bill Nighy.  Kudos to both Kebbell and Nighy for bringing a good sense of humor to the film.  Kebbell plays Agenor, the son of Poseidon and Nighy plays Hephaestus, the god who served as the blacksmith to the gods.  Nighy in particular looks like he’s having a ball with the part.

Wrath of the Titans won’t change anyone’s world, but it is a helluva lot of fun and a significantly better movie than it’s predecessor.  The look of the film is terrific, the action scenes and visual effects are exciting to watch, and the 3D is spectacular.  I had a great time with Wrath of the Titans and certainly recommend it.